Selling Stars

Sharon E. Baum
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: More than $100 million.
Biggest deal: The former Lycée Français townhouses, for a bit more than $50 million (jointly with Carrie Chiang).
The details: Baum, a Harvard M.B.A., was the first female vice-president at Chemical Bank. Today, the 63-year-old Missouri native (“and I really did raise Angus cattle”) deals in high-end properties on Central Park West, and apartments on Park and Fifth Avenues for New York aristocrats. Ferries clients in a midnight-blue Rolls-Royce with SOLD 1 license plate. Is near closing on Lily Safra’s place at 820 Fifth Avenue—perhaps the best building in town—for about $24.5 million.

Brucie Boalt
Sotheby’s International Realty
2002 sales: She’s not talking, and neither is anyone else.
The details: Old-school; deals with European wealth. Just sold the late Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli’s apartment to real-estate developer Steve Roth for about $20 million (a deal she made with Serena Boardman). Also sold Stavros Niarchos’s apartment at 820 Fifth Avenue for about $15 million.

Robby Browne
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: More than $140 million.
Biggest deal: Last month, about $45 million for 8,000 square feet at AOL Time Warner Center—the most expensive New York apartment ever.
The details: Browne, who works with partners Maria Pashby and Chris Kannon, calls himself a “Central Park West specialist,” and recently closed a twelve-room co-op at the San Remo for about $10 million. Also does downtown: Has Bob Vila’s 5,000-square-foot loft at 90 Franklin Street on the market for $4 million. Was Broker of the Year at Elliman for nine years before jumping to Corcoran. Won two gold medals in diving at the 1990 and ’94 Gay Games. Commutes on a battered ten-speed bike, though in the Hamptons he upgrades to a 1955 Chrysler convertible. Came to Barbara Corcoran’s book party this year dressed as a nun.

Patricia Burnham
P.S. Burnham
2002 sales: “My sales are the same every year—every person I know has to live somewhere. I move America.”
Biggest deal: The biggest she’ll admit to: Bill Cosby’s East 71st Street house, sold to duty-free tycoon Robert Miller for $12 million in 1988.
The details: Keeps her office so small that she won’t divulge the number of employees, but brokers say she’s a one-woman show. “I like to be on top of every deal. I’m accessible to every client,” she says. Known for hosting swank cocktail parties at Daniel for friends like Dominick Dunne and Mark Green to drum up clients. Ferries clients around in a big black Mercedes. Lives on Park Avenue. Works out “like a madwoman” at Equinox.

Edward Lee Cave
2002 sales: “Not talking is part of his shtick,” says a competitor, who estimates Cave’s sales last year at $30 million. “A few years ago, he was probably doing $70 or $80 million.”
The details: Cave helped start the residential-real-estate arm of Sotheby’s and then left to found his own boutique firm. “He was the doyen of the high end,” one colleague says. “He knows all the right people.” Last big deal was three years ago, when his right-hand woman, Kathy Steinberg, sold ex–in-law Saul Steinberg’s triplex penthouse at 740 Park Avenue for a record $34 million. Now he’s more likely to be spotted lunching at Doubles than pitching exclusives, though a rival admits, “Edward’s still the first call a certain type of customer will make.”

Roger Erickson
William B. May
2002 sales: $64 million—”a relatively slow year. I think I’m going to top $100 million this year, which is what I shoot for.”
Biggest deal: Peter Guber’s full-floor apartment at 944 Fifth, sold to a Goldman Sachs partner for about $14 million in 1999—then a record-breaking deal.
The details: About to close on Steve Jobs’s duplex penthouse in the San Remo for slightly less than the ask price of $14.9 million; Bono is buying. Also made what was then the largest-ever Hamptons deal, $10 million for the Gwathmey Siegel–designed Toad Hall. Brags that he’s had only one co-op-board turndown in twenty years. Lives in a Trump building on the West Side. Used to produce videos for the Jacksons and Julio Iglesias; his very first sale was an East 18th Street townhouse to Wynton Marsalis. Drives a Ferrari, wears a lot of black leather. Married to his Russian former dance instructor. Used to hang out with Andy Warhol, and sold Andy’s townhouse to MTV’s Tom Freston.

Carrie Chiang
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: $156 million.
Biggest deal: That $50 million Lycée Français deal with Sharon E. Baum.
The details: Was born in Shanghai, was raised in Hong Kong, and lived in Brazil before moving here with her husband and three kids. Known for East Side townhouses and especially condos, but also shows properties in Tribeca and Soho (with five assistants and a personal driver). Recent sales include P. Diddy’s $12 million house at 813 Park. Lives in Trump Palace; is a fanatically competitive ballroom dancer. Celebrity clients include Barbra Streisand and various members of the Johnson & Johnson family.

Barbara Fox
Fox Residential Group
2002 sales: About $50 million.
Biggest deal: A $10 million, four-bedroom Fifth Avenue co-op a few years ago. “I don’t do the $35 million deals.”
The details: Fox’s boutique firm, founded in 1989 with four brokers, now employs 40. She’s sold to Walter and Betsy Cronkite and Robert Redford. The North Carolina native, who retains her twang, founded WOOF!, a dog-rescue organization, in honor of her “children,” dog Lucy and cat Winky, who share an Upper West Side townhouse with Fox and her husband, a retired Skadden, Arps partner.

Leslie and Jed Garfield
Leslie J. Garfield & Co.
2002 sales: $58 million.
Biggest deal: The Vanderbilt Fabbri mansion on East 62nd Street, sold to the Japanese government for $21.5 million in 2000.
The details: This low-key father-and-son team deals in high-end properties, especially Upper East Side townhouses, with a strong Wall Street client list. The late Ted Ammon was a client. “I’m not a big schmoozer,” says Jed, “not one of those Hamptons types.” The son is on the board of the New York Youth Symphony, and Leslie’s on the board of MoMA. They win the Messrs. Congeniality prize from their fellow brokers—no small feat.

Deborah Grubman
The Corcoran Group
2002 sales: Won’t say, but an in-the-know source estimates $100 million.
Biggest deal: Tommy Mottola’s East 64th Street house for about $20 million.
The details: Lizzie’s stepmom recently jumped from Alice Mason, though Corcoran insists she didn’t get the rumored $1 million signing bonus. Does a ton of celebrity business, which is hardly surprising given her family connections. Couldn’t sell Edgar Bronfman Jr.’s 15,000-square-foot East 64th Street townhouse (between Fifth and Madison) last year—no takers at $40 million—but did just get the exclusive for the late Tony Fischer’s $13 million 73rd Street townhouse.

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Michele Kleier
Gumley Haft Kleier
2002 sales: More than $70 million.
Biggest deal: $12.5 million at 610 Park Avenue.
The details: Deals mostly with the big East Side prewars. Works with her husband, Ian, and cuts her kids in on commissions when they find potential buyers—which they began doing at Horace Mann, where they’d refer classmates’ parents. (Daughter Sabrina Kleier Morgenstern has since joined the firm.) Has sold to John Travolta, Billy Joel, and Neil Diamond, and—when they were a couple—to Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty. Spent four years dragging Al Pacino around, but he never bought. Still trying to move Richard Gere’s Fifth Avenue condo. Celebrates closings with clients at Le Cirque.

Kirk Henckels
Stribling & Associates
2002 sales: “Around $50 million—to be honest, I haven’t calculated it.”
Biggest deal: A classic prewar Fifth Avenue co-op with terraces, for “in excess of $10 million.”
The details: Right-hand man to Elizabeth Stribling, Henckels was president of Edward Lee Cave’s firm before taking over Stribling’s private-brokerage division (dealing in sales of more than $4 million). Works primarily in the prewar co-ops on Park Avenue and Central Park West, plus the odd townhouse. He’s a Texan, but the Stanford–Harvard Business School–rides-English kind (he was the 1970 Texas riding champion). Runs an annual horsemanship competition in Dutchess County with his wife, Tiffany PR chief Fernanda Kellogg. Celebrity clients include Brooke Shields and Billie Jean King.

Frederick Peters
Ashforth Warburg
2002 sales: “In the first six months of this year, I totaled just under $30 million.”
Biggest deal: A 3,200-square-foot co-op at the El Dorado. How much? Like Bartleby, he prefers not to.
The details: His prime clientele circles around Central Park West and Park Avenue. Started as associate director at Albert B. Ashforth in 1986 and bought the company in 1991 (changing the name to Ashforth Warburg). On the board of the Glimmerglass Opera.

Curtis Jackson
William B. May
2002 sales: More than $40 million.
Biggest deal: Sold the same apartment at 515 Park Avenue twice, first for $18.8 million (the seller was reportedly Jon Corzine) and a few months later for $18.25 million.
The details: Affable, friendly broker who’s been at William B. May for 21 years and tends to work with the same customers over and over: “I do a lot of follow-up, and I think that’s served me well.” Lives on Riverside Drive; sells all over town, specializing in big prewar apartments. “He’s extremely patient when you’re under the microscope,” says executive recruiter Joyce Hutton Roberts, who bought an apartment from him at 470 Park Avenue.

A. Laurance Kaiser IV
2002 sales: Won’t say.
Biggest deal: Sold the same apartment at 834 Fifth Avenue three times, most recently for $12.5 million.
The details: Go-to guy for swank East Side townhouses. Sold Maria Cuomo and Kenneth Cole their Fifth Avenue co-op and Neil Diamond his duplex penthouse in the limestone mansion at 17 East 63rd Street. Grew up on Fifth Avenue, attended Switzerland’s Le Rosey boarding school, and has the ascot to prove it. Inherited a formidable Rolodex from his mom, Evalyn Kaiser, who ran the firm before he did. Has encyclopedic knowledge of who lives where, from Palm Beach to Park Avenue. Often works with the European jet set.

Dolly Lenz
Douglas Elliman
2002 sales: An astonishing $287 million. “But remember, that’s unfair to other people—I sell in bulk, sometimes five apartments to one person.”
Biggest deal: Near closing on a $23 million apartment in AOL Time Warner Center, and on a similarly priced place in Trump World Tower.
The details: Brokers love to hate Lenz, mostly out of jealousy. She’s probably the city’s top broker, and in the country’s top five. Doesn’t have a geographical specialty: She follows the money. (Clients include Nathan Lane, Jay-Z, and Mariah Carey.) Speaks five languages; frequently flies to places like Hong Kong to secure clients. Sold the penthouse at the Ritz-Carlton for $17.7 million, and we hear she’s moving into the building herself. Never gets off the phone. Says she has a house in Southampton; also says she’s hardly there. But since Prudential bought Elliman, she’s been making big deals on the East End. Is known for celebrity sales—she found Tommy Mottola and Thalia their place at 30 East 85th Street, which they then flipped for $11.8 million—but says her clientele is “90 percent non-high-profile. It’s just that those people don’t get written about.”

Helene Luchnick
Douglas Elliman
2002 sales: “I don’t give it out.”
Biggest deal: A 4,500-square-foot loft in the New Museum building at 158 Mercer Street for $6.75 million (it had sold a month earlier for $5 million).
The details: She’s the downtown maven: Works mostly with loft conversions and new developments, especially in freshly gentrified neighborhoods, and actually moved to the Clock Tower in Dumbo. Pioneered Elliman’s Soho business in the mid-eighties and was among the first in Tribeca and Chelsea a decade later. Lately, does more business in Williamsburg than in Manhattan.

Alice Mason
Alice F. Mason Ltd.
2002 sales: $30 million.
Biggest deal: A pair of deals, really: Jean-Paul Messier bought a place at 515 Park for $17.5 million, after the seller paid $15 million (also through Mason) and never moved in. (What is with these people?)
The details: A legend among old-money types for her discretion, meaning that celebrities, socialites, and elite executives feel safe with her (she has the exclusive to sell former EMI Music chief’s Jim Fifield’s penthouse triplex at 27 North Moore Street). Her firm just sold Maria Cuomo and Kenneth Cole’s Fifth Avenue apartment for about $14 million—though the broker who did the deal, Claire Kaufman, has since jumped to Corcoran. Known for her dinner parties and Democratic fund-raising (she’s had Carter, Clinton, and Gore as guests) and obsessively maintained Maltese, Fluffy.

MacRae Parker Jr.
Brown Harris Stevens
2002 sales: “I don’t talk about these things. I think it’s wrong.”
The details: Now 80, he was operating when everyone else on this list was in short pants. Is among the most tight-lipped in the business, never discussing his clients. A Dakota specialist—he got Judith Stern Peck, ex-wife of former Hartz CEO Leonard Stern, through the impossible co-op board and into a $5 million–plus fixer-upper there in 2000.

Kathy Sloane
Brown Harris Stevens
2002 sales: Will say only that she consistently does deals in the $15 million range; you do the math.
Biggest deal: “Just under $20 million for an East Side co-op.”
The details: The top producer in the luxury category at Brown Harris Stevens, Sloane is still egalitarian: “I think my smallest sale last year was $349,000 for a studio, and I’m always getting calls to help friends’ kids.” On the other end of the scale, last year she sold Robert Redford’s penthouse at 1030 Fifth Avenue to Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer for $11 million. Does quite a bit downtown, too. Showed the Clintons a few Manhattan apartments before they bought (through her) in Westchester and remains a Democratic Party operator.

Linda Stein
Douglas Elliman
2002 sales: “What do I want, the IRS?”
Biggest deal: “All the large deals come with confidentiality agreements.”
The details: Has worked with a lot of music-business people (Billy Joel, Sting). Sold ex-husband Seymour “I Discovered Madonna” Stein’s apartment at 55 Central Park West to Donna Karan for a reported $11 million. Was the basis for Sylvia Miles’s character in Wall Street, and has been profiled in Vanity Fair. Has the exclusive for the old “Warhol compound” in Montauk, owned by friend Paul Morrissey. Used to manage the Ramones.

Selling Stars